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Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty ofthe 1980s [Kindle Edition]

Jeff Pearlman
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $30.00
Kindle Price: $11.99
You Save: $18.01 (60%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

The New York Times bestselling author of Sweetness delivers the first all-encompassing account of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, one of professional sports’ most-reveredand dominantdynasties.

The Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s personified the flamboyance and excess of the decade over which they reigned. Beginning with the arrival of Earvin “Magic” Johnson as the number-one overall pick of the 1979 draft, the Lakers played basketball with gusto and pizzazz, unleashing their famed “Showtime” run-and-gun style on a league unprepared for their speed and ferocity—and became the most captivating show in sports and, arguably, in all-around American entertainment. The Lakers’ roster overflowed with exciting all-star-caliber players, including center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and they were led by the incomparable Pat Riley, known for his slicked-back hair, his Armani suits, and his arrogant strut. Hollywood’s biggest celebrities lined the court and gorgeous women flocked to the arena. Best of all, the team was a winner. Between 1980 and 1991, the Lakers played in an unmatched nine NBA championship series, capturing five of them.

Bestselling sportswriter Jeff Pearlman draws from almost three hundred interviews to take the first full measure of the Lakers’ epic Showtime era. A dazzling account of one of America’s greatest sports sagas, Showtime is packed with indelible characters, vicious rivalries, and jaw-dropping, behind-the-scenes stories of the players’ decadent Hollywood lifestyles. From the Showtime era’s remarkable rise to its tragic end—marked by Magic Johnson’s 1991 announcement that he had contracted HIV—Showtime is a gripping narrative of sports, celebrity, and 1980s-style excess.

Editorial Reviews


Praise for Jeff Pearlman and Showtime

"A marvelous and dishy history of the Showtime Lakers, full of bare-knuckled assessments . . . What a tonic Jeff Pearlman's new book is for forlorn Lakers fans suffering through the team's disastrous current season."
Los Angeles Times

"The Showtime Lakers weren’t just the best team of their era. They were also the most compelling, the most charismatic, the most complex. The Lakers of Kareem, Magic and Riley were to the 1980s what the Yankees of Mantle, Ford, and Stengel were to the 1950s: A team perfectly matched to its time, and place. Jeff Pearlman, typically, delivers the goods, celebrating them for their achievements, pulling no punches on the subject of their shortcomings. This is a vivid portrait of a great team, in full."
—Jeremy Schaap, ESPN commentator, New York Times best-selling author of Cinderella Man and Triumph 

"The names (Magic, Kareem, Worthy, Riley, Buss) and the games (four championships) have long been studied by basketball's anthropologists. But so much of the story of the Showtime Lakers, THE Team of the 80s, took place behind closed doors. Jeff Pearlman, as is his wont, pries them open and finds … a whole lot of L.A. living."
—Jack McCallum, author of New York Times best-seller Dream Team

"An era that redefined the game has found a storyteller more than up to the task. By any measure, Showtime is magic."
—Mark Frost, author of The Greatest Game Ever Played

"Showtime proves to be prime-time literary entertainment. A rocking, roller-coast of a ride it reads like the Lakers of Magic and Riley played—an artistic fast-break of revealing, sometimes shocking tales tinged with sex, drugs and, most of all humanity. You want to know the real story behind a beautifully dysfunctional basketball dynasty? Read this book."
—Armen Keteyian, 60 Minutes Sports

"Showtime is a rollicking ride, full of great characters, killer anecdotes and surprising details. Pearlman is an indefatigable reporter, and here he provides an all-access pass to one of the game's greatest dynasties, with tales of Kareem, Magic, Riley and Jerry Buss in their heyday. It's a book any NBA fan—any sports fan—will devour, likely in one or two sittings."
—Chris Ballard, Senior Writer, Sports Illustrated

"Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that recreates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. Showtime is a great show indeed, full of colorful (and complicated) characters as well as a trove of details that even the most passionate fans will be amazed to learn. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it."
—Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life

About the Author

Jeff Pearlman is a New York Times bestselling author and sports writer. He has worked as a columnist for and, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, a features writer for Newsday, and a contributor to The Wall Street Journal and He lives in New York.

Product Details

  • File Size: 11241 KB
  • Print Length: 497 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1592407552
  • Publisher: Gotham Books (March 4, 2014)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,090 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you have had the opportunity to visit the NBA Hall of Fame… one of the things you’ll see are displays dedicated to teams during specific times that were considered *DYNASTIES*… One of those dynasties was the 1980’s Showtime Lakers. Before I ordered this book… let alone before I read it… I looked at my personal library and counted over twenty books regarding the Lakers. I at first said… how much more can there be on a team from over thirty years ago… and then I reminisced about how I had enjoyed three other books I read by the author Jeff Pearlman on… the Dallas Cowboys… Walter Payton… and the steroid cheat… Roger Clemens. I ordered the book… and as this review will confirm… I am thrilled that I did.

What makes this book so worthwhile… even with the knowledge of what I read in all the prior books I owned… and in addition to attending many of the Showtime Lakers games in person at the Fabulous Forum… and the fact that I had even played in numerous pickup games against a number of the Laker players… were three main facts… first… Jeff Pearlman invested his time and energy in an exhausting amount of piercing… in depth interviews… secondly… his writing style is smooth yet exhilarating… the reader never gets the feeling as with many other authors… that they’re just trying to fill additional pages… and the third reason… is the fact that “time” itself… over thirty plus years… over a quarter of a century has passed… and that means literary morals have changed… and what is considered acceptable in everyday journalism has changed. So thirty years ago when a written word was published… there were moral limits as to what could be written.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fabulous Showtime Lakers--Warts And All March 18, 2014
"Showtime" is an engrossingly entertaining retrospective look at the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s. It is an astonishingly compelling book relating everything you thought you knew and much that you never knew about one of the most exciting professional basketball teams of all time. This is a book not to be missed by anyone who was a basketball fan during the 80's and, in particular, a Lakers fan of that fabulous era. Kareem, Magic, Wilkes, Michael Cooper, Spencer Haywood, Bob McAdoo, Mitch Kupchak, Norm Nixon, and so many others who transform a lethargic Laker franchise into perhaps the most entertaining, fast breaking, and dysfunctional professional team of all time.

Jeff Pearlman has clearly done his homework. There are references to interviews over a three year period with all the major characters who were part of the Laker magic and interviews with many who were involved in the league but watching from afar. We learn that Showtime was the brainchild of Jack McKinney, an innovative yet doomed head coach, who saw his fling at fame destroyed by a terrible bicycle accident. The lamentable Paul Westhead era that followed was controversial and certainly ugly at times, including the feeling that Magic Johnson was the real force who got him fired. The Pat Riley era began somewhat inauspiciously and ultimately blossomed into one of the most exciting and entertaining basketball teams in the history of the NBA.

Showtime really began when Dr. Jerry Buss purchased the Lakers from Jack Kent Cooke, an owner content to be the overlord of a professional team that really didn't know its own identity or its potential.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not how I want to remember it. June 2, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I believe this to be an accurate and revealing documentation of "Showtime" but in its accuracy it diminishes many of the heroes I remember and paints an ugly ego on many of the superstars. This takes much of the "fun" out of "Showtime" and and reveals how the media, money and an organization controls public opinion and image.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Guyzen
This is a fascinating book about a great team in one of the most exciting cities in the world. Of all of the things that stand out, one that keeps coming up throughout this book is how many of these guys ruined their careers by getting lost in drugs or women (and sometimes both). It's sad to see the talent that some of these guys wasted by pursuing these other vices.

This book is incredibly well researched and very interesting. I love how Jeff Pearlman spends ample time on each of the main components of the Showtime Lakers, the coaches, owners, and most of all the players. It's interesting the change that happens to Pat Riley as he becomes more controlling and unapproachable as the years carry on. The reader has to consider what could have been if a few more balls would have bounced the Lakers' way, they very well could have swept the decade with championships, or at the very least picked up a few more titles. The stars are startlingly human and emotions and pride play a much bigger role than the casual observer would ever have realized.

As a basketball fan, I very much enjoyed the stories of one of the most storied teams in the history of the game. You don't have to be a Lakers fan to enjoy this book. The womanizers, drug addicts, and God fearing Christians all came together to play an exciting and fast paced style of basketball. What's interesting is how the players clicked and how much the role players contributed to the success of the team. I especially enjoyed the stories about Kurt Rambis and his somewhat odd behavior.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down
A must-read for any Laker fan who experienced the Showtime era.
Published 5 days ago by Wayne Fauber
4.0 out of 5 stars Good NBA book
Well written, lots of memories in whats written, not as much background "insight" as I expected.
Published 6 days ago by Shawn Sargent
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great book for Laker fans, well written and interesting.
Published 6 days ago by David M. Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars SHOWTIME is for real
Jeff Pearlman does it again. Providing insight into one of the best teams and greatest eras of basketball
Published 8 days ago by Swithin Titus
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Basketball Book
Fascinating inside look at the Lakers during Jack Kent Cooke's and Magic Johnson's heyday. I
heartily recommend it to basketball fans.
Published 17 days ago by Quilting Maniac
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed so much reading about the Lakers in a time ...
Well written. Enjoyed so much reading about the Lakers in a time that I remember so well. Magic was a magic person and basketball player. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Linda Meiers
5.0 out of 5 stars great stories
a must read for Laker fans
Published 20 days ago by Kenneth Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars great read!
Another excellent book by Pearlman. It took me back to the days that NBA basketball was very hard to see in Europe. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dennis Janssen
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Pearlman is an interesting guy, and I rarely agree with him on twitter, but he can report the hell out of a book. I'd argue that he's the best sports reporter working today. Read more
Published 1 month ago by JBT
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good read!
Published 1 month ago by BT
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More About the Author

Jeff Pearlman is a columnist for He has worked as as a columnist for and, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, a features writer for Newsday and -- amazingly -- as The (Nashville) Tennessean's food and fashion writer. He is the author of two New York Times best-sellers--Boys Will Be Boys, a biography of the 1990s Dallas Cowboys, and The Bad Guys Won, a biography of the 1986 New York Mets. He is also the author of a pair of, ahem, non-New York Times' best-seller, Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Anti-Hero, and The Rocket That Fell to Earth: Roger Clemens and the Rage for Baseball Immortality. Pearlman lives in New York with his wife and two children, and enjoys Kirk Cameron films, T-shirts and the taste of gum.

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